The Tunisian transport ministry Sunday put a temporary ban on Emirates flights until the airline finds the appropriate solution to operate flights “in accordance with international law and agreements” after the public outcry that denounced last week Emirati ban on Tunisian women traveling to or transiting through United Arab Emirates.
Diplomatic tensions have emerged between the North African country and the Gulf state since late last week after some Tunisian women reported that their travels on Emirates had been delayed and that they were subject to additional strict visa checks.
Emirates also announced it would suspend flights connection between its hub Dubai and the Tunisian capital from Monday as result of the Tunisian ministry’s instruction.
The move by Emirati authorities sparked public and official outrage in Tunisia where it has been considered as discriminatory and racist.
The Gulf state Foreign Minister Anwar Gargash said Tunisian authorities were informed about security information that required specific procedures.
“We should avoid misleading attempts … We highly value Tunisian women and respect them,” Garagash added.
The Tunisian government Friday summoned the UAE ambassador for explanation. The envoy, according to official sources, said the measure was for a short period and the restrictions had been lifted.
A local party told The New Arab the restrictions put on Tunisian women was a political move and attempt to pressure Tunisia to “fall in line on Arab issues”.
“We consider this unjustified and surprising decision an infringement on Tunisia’s reputation and on Tunisian women,” said Imed Daimi, the leader of the Harak Tounes al-Irada party.
Tunisia has refused to join Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt in the diplomatic showdown with Qatar. The quartet has since June 5 severed ties with Qatar over its alleged support for terrorism.
Tunisia and Qatar have strong diplomatic and economic ties.
Ties between the North Africa country and the UAE have cooled since the 2011 revolution despite a recent détente. The Gulf state loathes Ennahda party – part of the governing coalition.
The party, which has strong ties with Qatar, won the first fair elections held in Tunisia in the wake of the revolution.